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The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is for real – and a local app has been blazing the paperless trail to prosperity for many, providing instant access to forex and related transactions at the touch of a button.

South Africa’s rand is the 19th most traded currency in the world, according to the Bank of International Settlements, a ranking that belies the size of the South African economy and its global trading volumes. 

That speaks to the liquidity and relative sophistication of South Africa’s financial markets. Local forex traders have long been able to move around large sums of foreign currency and the rand at the press of a button. But such transacting was a chore for your average middle-class South African who wanted access or exposure to foreign currencies for a range of investment, financial planning and other reasons.

The paperless future is now

Paperwork – often literally involving paper – was the daunting prospect faced by South Africans wanting, or needing, to execute foreign currency transactions. South Africa, like many jurisdictions, has strict controls on foreign exchange. This has been cumbersome to navigate and a disincentive to such transacting. Who wants to stand in a queue when they don’t have to?

In recent years, this area has become increasingly digitised – the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is for real – and the Shyft app, powered by Standard Bank, has been blazing the paperless trail to prosperity for many. At your fingertips, it provides instant access to forex and related transactions, and you don’t have to be a forex dealer to do it.

With Shyft, you can buy forex in a flash on your phone and the app continuously updates the rand’s exchange rate with other currencies, including historical data. This allows users to buy at the press of a button when the price is right for them.

It also allows you to access or fund offshore accounts from directly within the app and send money to other Shyft users instantly – a shift into a higher gear in an economy where many other trends seem to be going into reverse. Even when load shedding is at stage six, you can obtain or move forex effortlessly. (And you don’t have to navigate potholes or broken robots to go and fill out paperwork in order to do so!)

A solution for Africa

Foreign exchange transactions elsewhere in Africa have generally been more arduous than in South Africa – where, until recently, it has also been difficult – and this has been one of the many constraints to the continent’s economic and financial development.

According to a recent report in the IMF’s Finance and Development Magazine (F&D), challenges to cross-border payments in Africa are among the many barriers to trade in Africa, adding significantly to the costs of doing business or settling fees for services. For ordinary Africans, the costs are prohibitive. The F&D report cited the recent case of a Ghanaian who paid a lawyer in Nigeria for services rendered. It took two weeks for the lawyer to receive the payment of $100, which cost an additional $40 (40% of the sum) in transaction fees. 

It is within this context that Shyft is looking to expand throughout the African continent, having launched in Botswana last year. Plugging Africa into pan-African and global financial services markets is a tool of upliftment and empowerment that facilitates capital flows while easing the burden of forex transactions for people across the continent.

Effortless investing in shares 

And Shyft is much more than an app that makes access to or the transfer and investment of forex easy and seamless.

As a financial planning and investment tool in the palm of your hand, Shyft Shares allows you to easily manage, buy and sell shares, notably on the US stock markets including the S&P 500 or the Nasdaq-100.  

You can invest in a broad range of industries that suit the needs of your portfolio and appetite for risk. Options include, but are not restricted to, technology, financial services, healthcare and industrial industries.

And you can track the performance of your portfolio, allowing you to buy and sell shares when you feel the time is right. Not so long ago, the ability to do such things was – as in the case of forex – largely restricted to equities dealers and fund managers. Shyft now allows you to manage your own overseas assets, on a 24/7 basis, bringing peace of mind.

Easy exposure to forex and US stock markets is critical for South Africans who want a diverse and flexible portfolio in these trying and turbulent economic times. The rand’s global ranking as a highly-traded currency is also a source of its considerable volatility, underlining the importance of having a portfolio that includes assets linked to the dollar, pound or euro.  

This is a game-changer for global lifestyles in an increasingly connected world. Instant access to your portfolio’s performance, and the ability to make changes, is crucial as the pace of market movements accelerates.

Shyft brings immediate transparency to how your assets are faring and to financial markets, giving you as much information as possible for when it comes down to where to deploy your hard-earned capital and savings. This in itself is a public service. 

Travel finances simplified

Further simplifying a global lifestyle, Shyft also eases the burden of accessing forex while travelling abroad for business or pleasure. Who wants to travel around with large sums of cash in hand which requires paperwork and carries the risk of potentially being robbed? And who wants to wait for a wire transfer to come through? Those days are now a thing of the past, like rotary dial telephones, travellers’ cheques and manual type-writers.

Forex transacting, for whatever reason, and off-shore investing, should be efficient and easy. After all, your time is also your money. Shyft removes the obstacles of the past while helping you to grow your wealth for the future. DM


This post was sponsored by Shyft, the global money app, powered by Standard Bank. With Shyft you can buy forex instantly anytime, anywhere, and at the best rates, and invest in over 300 top US stocks and ETFs. Visit Shyft to download it now, no matter where you bank. Shyft operates under the licence of The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited, an authorised Financial Services Provider (FSP number 11287).


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